Kurdish MP warns Sweden over Nato compromise with Turkey

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A far-left Kurdish MP who could decide the fate of Sweden’s government in a parliamentary vote on Tuesday has warned it against compromising with Turkey over the country’s application to join Nato.

Amineh Kakabaveh, a former Peshmerga fighter who will have the decisive vote in Sweden’s parliament, told the Financial Times the country would abandon its “dignity and values” if it gave in to demands from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to extradite Kurds wanted by Ankara.

Turkey, as a Nato member, has the power to veto the Scandinavian country’s membership of the military alliance and has held up plans for its accession.

The independent MP’s comments come a day before a crucial vote in Sweden’s parliament over the future of the justice minister, which could prompt the resignation of the entire government if it loses, something that is all but guaranteed if Kakabaveh votes against it.

“The whole thing is bad for Sweden’s reputation. They allowed a tyrannist, a despot, an Islamist regime to decide which kind of politicians are in the government. I have been in Sweden for 29 years, and I have never been so afraid,” Kakabaveh said in the interview.

Sweden’s Nato bid, its attempts to overcome Turkey’s opposition, and Stockholm’s recent chronic political instability have collided ahead of Tuesday’s dramatic vote.

The populist Sweden Democrats, backed by the entire rightwing opposition, have tabled a no-confidence vote on centre-left justice minister Morgan Johansson after years of gang shootings in inner cities areas as well as grenade and bomb attacks.

But Social Democrat prime minister Magdalena Andersson has said her entire government will resign if the no-confidence vote is passed, which would plunge Sweden into a government crisis 100 days before national elections and as Stockholm starts to negotiate with Ankara over unblocking its Nato application.

Kakabaveh, who gave her support in November to ensure Andersson became prime minister via a highly unusual deal that was based on support for the Kurds and criticism of Erdoğan.

She will hold a further meeting with the Social Democrats on Monday afternoon but said she feared the centre-left party was prepared to let the justice minister fall and to continue in power to curry favour with Turkey.

Andersson said on Sunday night that she would consider a proposal from one centre-right party leader to vote against Johansson but support no more no-confidence votes before September’s elections.

“My feeling is they will sacrifice their own minister for Erdoğan,” Kakabaveh said.

She told state broadcaster SVT last week: “Sweden should withdraw its Nato application if it depends on us cowardly sitting still and giving in to Erdoğan’s demands. It is embarrassing and disgusting.”

Sweden’s parliament is evenly balanced, 174 votes against 174 between left and right, giving Kakabaveh outsized importance.

Aron Lund, a Middle East expert and fellow at US think-tank The Century Foundation, said that if Andersson gave into Kakabaveh’s “Kurdish-nationalist causes, it would likely trigger an immediate backlash from Turkey”.

He added: “Unless this is resolved, it seems like it could complicate the Nato talks with Turkey quite a bit.”

Kakabaveh’s influence will end in September as she is all but certain not to be re-elected, but she now has a platform to talk about the Kurdish cause, something that has long irritated Turkish officials.

In return for allowing Sweden to join Nato, Ankara has demanded the country takes more action against terrorists, extradites Kurds from Sweden and lifts an arms embargo. Swedish authorities say there has never been an arms embargo and that it has long banned the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).

“It is not me who is the problem, it is Erdoğan . The government want to compromise. It’s terrible. I am terrified. I feel fear for the future,” Kakabaveh said.

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